Here we go again: Red wine healthy or not?

The Cleveland Clinic took another look at the heart benefits, or the theory that there is one, from red wine.
— Read on www.wdtn.com/news/ohio/here-we-go-again-red-wine-healthy-or-not/

Here’s a look at my research on the subject.

Moderate Consumption of Wine is Good For Your Health

If Jesus turned water into wine, maybe he did it for the health of his disciples? This day and age consumption of wine has been relegated to a social activity and at its worst a tool for inebriation but that has not always been the case for wine.

“IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WINE MAY INDEED BE the world’s oldest medicine? Until the 18th century, wine played an integral role in medical practice. Not only was it safer to drink than most available water but its alcohol, antioxidant and acid content inhibited the growth of many spoilage and pathogenic organisms. The paradigm shifted in the second half of the 20th century, when alcohol consumption, including wine drinking, had become the target of health campaigners who, with some success, demanded warning labels on wine bottles” (Dunn 17).

It is important to consider the history of wine when arguing for increased consumption in the United States. These health campaigners who targeted wine because of the alcohol did not understand the reason why wine was originally consumed in the first place. Wine has many anti- spoilage properties that were important when refrigeration was not possible. In America wine is an adult beverage for the purpose of intoxication especially with spoilage and contamination not being not as much of a concern in our daily food and water supply. What if we considered it for much more than its merrier properties? There are more medicinal properties throughout history we hav not considered.

“In 1721 [four condemned criminals were recruited to bury the dead during a terrible plague in Marseilles. The gravediggers proved to be immune to the disease. Their secret was a concoction they drank consisting of macerated garlic in wine, which immediately became famous as vinaigre des quatre voleurs (four thieves’ vinegar).] It is still available in France today” (Dunn 17). While wine may not prevent the next deadly plague research is showing the French’s infatuation with wine may have lots of unintended benefits. The French Paradox is an antidotal relationship between the French’s diet of high fat content foods and their higher wine consumption per capita than here in America. The French tend to live longer healthier lives than their American counterparts. Looking deeper into these antidotes we can find many benefits of moderate wine consumption. Scientist and researchers have now more than ever have been looking into the health benefits of wine and finding new compounds that prevent heart disease, aging and even fight cancer. It is time for Americans to consider moderated wine consumption for the benefit of their health.

Many have waxed poetically on the value of moderation but when it comes to consumption of wine for the benefit of your health, there are guidelines you should follow. In “What’s “A Drink?” Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley suggest, “A “serving” of alcohol=12 ounces beer or 5 ounces wine or 1.5 ounces 80-proof spirits or 1 ounce 100-proof spirits. “Moderate use” = no more than one serving a day for women, two for men.” m(Wright 1). Anything can be over used and critics would argue that alcohol consumption will lead to alcoholism and liver disease but responsible use of the guidelines researchers set forth for moderation is helpful when considering the benefits of wine over the risk of over use. Also, wine is synonymous with food, making wine perfect for moderation. Unlike some other alcoholic beverages the history of wine revolves around the dinner table making it more likely to be consumed in moderation. This relationship between food and wine is evident when examining other cultures with longevity of life and their correlation between how they eat and drink, also known as the ‘French Paradox’.

“This phenomenon refers to a remarkable association between a high fat diet and a lower incidence of CHD found in Mediterranean countries, which contrasts with a higher incidence of CHD among most Western cultures.(n2) The French eat 30% more fat, smoke more and exercise less than Americans and yet have fewer heart attacks.(n3, n4) An American male has three times the chance of dying from a heart attack as a Frenchman of the same age.(n5) A significant difference in the two cultures is the amount of wine that is drunk. The average annual per capita consumption of wine in France is 58.1 litres, whereas the Americans imbibe a meagre 7.42 litres” (Armstrong et al. 279).

It is clear to see a the benefit of including a diet with moderate consumption of wine when you compare the health of Americans to our French counterparts who drink a lot more than we do in the U.S.A. Now that we have have a clearer definition of moderation, the value we can see of wine consumption, even antidotally when looking at another country’s consumption, there are health benefits to American’s consuming more wine.

According to the CDC, “One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.1 About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.” (Moderate 4-5). When considering these figures scientist have began to look deeper into wines heart healthy qualities and how responsible use of wine may lead to less heart attacks in Americans. Unlike the “French Paradox” which is based on mostly anecdotal evidence about wine consumtion, there are medical professionals finding supporting evidence that any alcohol could have heart attack prevention benefits. For example, Wright finds, “Most evidence in support of moderate alcohol use comes from cardiovascular research. According to alcohol researcher Eric Rimm, Sc.D., of Harvard’s School of Public Health, “about 50 randomized studies show that when consumed in moderation, alcohol increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’) cholesterol and decreases blood clotting and insulin resistance all of which should reduce the risk of heart disease.” These benefits appear to extend even to those at high risk of heart disease due to diabetes, high blood pressure and previous heart attack” (Moderate 4-5).

Rimm’s research shows it is not clear that there is a trade off when considering the benefits of wine consumption and the risks of over consumption to those who would argue otherwise. Many would point to Nicholas Cage’s character in Leaving Las Vegas, who drinks himself to death as a reason to not promote alcohol in general. However, the American Liver Foundation points out that, “Obesity is the leading cause of liver disease in the U.S. There is a stigma that drinking alcohol and using drugs is the leading cause of liver disease, but there are other things that come into play as well. A liver disease may even be genetic.” (American n.p.). Far fewer people die from Liver Disease than have heart attacks when you compare the 42,838 deaths according to CDHS from liver disease to the 655,000 who die from heart attacks. (CDC/CDHS 2020). When considering the risk reward of wine consumption it is easy to see there are far more benefits than risk. Therefore, moderate consumption of wine will lead to less heart attacks in America bring down the one of the biggest causes of deaths to Americans.

All the benefits of wine consumption for health have not even been fully explored. Scientist and researchers continue to explore new compounds and qualities of wine that have health benefits. For example, more research is continually be done on a compound called Revestral in wine which has had significant findings in every thing from brain health, anti-aging properties, to cancer prevention. Resveratrol, a beneficial substance in red wine, grapes that can enhance brain health in postmenopausal women, according to an Australian study published in the Journal of Nutrients. Many pharmaceuticals companies have tried to release Resveratrol pills to take the place of the compound found in wine. There have been mixed results on this approach which could be related to the fact there are other compounds in wine with health benefits and it’s the make up of wine that has the most benefit when consumed. Researchers are also looking into these other compounds that have preventative agents, “This study, and earlier work by the same team, demonstrates that procyanidin B dimers in red wine could be used as chemo preventive agents against breast cancer by inhibiting the conversion of androgens to estrogens in breast tissue. The wine daily could provide enough procyanidin B dimers to inhibit aromatase.” (Phelps A280). There are complex compounds that are formed when making wine. Scientist are just beginning to explore how these compounds are created and what these compounds can be used for other than to make great wine. It is clear to see wine consumption is continuing to have more benefits as more research is being conducted.

People are investing ways to live longer and be healthier. The diet and nutrition are billion dollar industry and yet Americans are loosing the fight. According the 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, “the U.S. ranks 35th out of 169 countries. Even though we are the 11th wealthiest country in the world, we are behind pretty much all developed economies in terms of health.” (Lu and Miller 1) So when you consider the historical and antidotal evidence, the heart disease findings, and the ongoing research it is clear Americans should increase their wine consumption. Studies show that drinking alcohol prevents blood clots, raises your good cholesterol and prevents the hardening of arteries. (Moderate 1). Though the study does not specify wine but alcohol in general, I believe the benefits found in a glass a wine are far superior to all other alcoholic beverages. In a day and age where there is a shot or pill for everything a simple solution like having a glass of wine with dinner should be a goal every American would want to achieve. Therefore, the next time your at the grocery store for your health pick up some wine too, preferably red.

Works Cited

“5 Facts About Liver Disease.” American Liver Foundation. n.p., n.d. Web. .

Armstrong, G. O.Lambrechts, M. G.,Mansvelt, E. P. G.,Van Velden, D. P.,Pretorius, I. S. South African Journal of Science. Jul/Aug2001, Vol. 97 Issue 7/8, p 279.

“Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis.” CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. n.p., 30 Oct. 2020. Web. .

Dunn, Rob. “Strong Medicine: Drinking Wine and Beer Can Help Save You from Cholera, Montezuma s Revenge, E. Coli and Ulcers 1.” Scientific American. n.p., 17 Feb. 2012. Web. .

Lu, Wei and Miller, Lee. “These Are the World’s Healthiest Nations” Bloomberg. p. 1, Feb 2019. Web..

Phelps, Jerry. “Breast cancer: estrogen suppression by compounds found in red wine and grape seeds.” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 112, no. 5, 2004, p. A280. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A116524965/OVIC? u=nhc_main&sid=OVIC&xid=f69e61b1. Accessed 11 Nov. 2020.

“Moderate Alcohol Consumption Provides Health Benefits.” Alcohol Abuse, edited by Christine Watkins, Greenhaven Press, 2012. At Issue. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/EJ3010276229/OVIC? u=nhc_main&sid=OVIC&xid=899a1241. Accessed 11 Nov. 2020. Originally published as “Should You Drink Alcohol for Your Heart?” UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, Aug. 2003, pp. 4-5.? Gale Document Number: GALE|EJ3010276229

Montgomery 7

“Why Is the USA Only the 35th Healthiest Country in the World?” the health care blog. n.p., 29 Nov. 2020. Web. .

Wright, Hillary. “Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Provide Health Benefits.” Alcohol Abuse, edited by Ronnie D. Lankford, Greenhaven Press, 2007. At Issue. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/EJ3010276212/OVIC? u=nhc_main&sid=OVIC&xid=e8c05e4f. Accessed 11 Nov. 2020. Originally published as “To Drink or Not to Drink? The Pros and Cons of Imbibing Alcohol,” Environmental Nutrition, vol. 29, Mar. 2006, p. 1.

Published by Beau K Hurley

Author, Photographer, and Designer Legends of the Swag is where all these ambitions come together.

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